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Ormond Grayson (Tom) Tickle (1912–1990)

by Carolyn Nolan

This article was published:

Ormond Grayson (‘Tom’) Tickle (1912-1990), businessman, was born on 15 August 1912 at West End, Brisbane, eighth of nine children of Brisbane-born parents George Arthur Eugene Magnus Tickle, tobacconist, and his wife Alice, née Winterbotham. After George died in 1918 his widow ran the tobacco-distribution business with the help of a manager until 1921, when her second son, James, took over. By the early 1930s the firm also sold household items.

‘Tom’ received his education and acquired his nickname at West End State School. Six feet (183 cm) tall and slender, with black hair and brown eyes, he joined the family business. On 7 March 1942 at the Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, he married Phyllis Lindum Salway, a shop assistant. That year he assumed management of the business, severely affected by wartime tobacco shortages and resulting reduced profits. With the help of his brothers Stanley and Douglas he energetically expanded the firm over the next four decades. He took pride in always looking after his customers. In 1950 Tickles acquired a building in Stanley Street, South Brisbane. Six years later they purchased 7½ acres (3 ha) at Fairfield to accommodate the two fleets of blue vans—mostly converted army vehicles—owned by George Tickle & Co. Pty Ltd, the tobacco distribution business, and Tickle Industries Pty Ltd, the wholesale distribution specialists. A manufacturing division produced commodities in short supply after the war, including dried fruit, school stationery and patent medicines.

In 1957, aware of overseas trends in the grocery business, Tom Tickle changed the direction of the firm, opening a self-service centre to supply groceries wholesale. In 1971 Tickle Wholesale Distributors Ltd was formed following a merger with Queensland Country Traders Ltd, manufacturers of QCT food products. Tom Tickle was chairman, D. W. Tickle and D. D. Tickle were directors, and Jack Butler was managing director until 1976, when he left to open his ‘Jack the Slasher Food Barns’. The family retained George Tickle & Co. and Tickle Industries as separate family companies and formed Tickle Holdings Pty Ltd, with Tom as chairman. In 1981, after another merger, Tickle became a director of Queensland Independent Wholesalers Ltd. The new group controlled 40 per cent of the wholesale grocery distribution business in Queensland.

Tickle became interested in boating in the late 1970s, and was remembered by members of the Little Ship Club, North Stradbroke Island, as having ‘an incredible zest for life and fun’. Divorced in 1977, on 25 February 1978 at Surfers Paradise he married 22-year-old Heather Joy Ferguson, a secretary. At their home, Isle of San Daneena, on the Nerang River, they entertained customers and the boating fraternity. Tickle died on 9 November 1990 at Runaway Bay and was cremated with Anglican rites. His wife and their son and the two sons of his first marriage survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 10 July 1979, p 3
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 16 Dec 1981, p 8
  • Chronicle (Toowoomba), 26 May 1982, p 19
  • Gold Coast Bulletin, 12 Nov 1990, p 20
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Carolyn Nolan, 'Tickle, Ormond Grayson (Tom) (1912–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (Melbourne University Press), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 August, 1912
West End, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


9 November, 1990 (aged 78)
Runway Bay, Queensland, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.